Frank Warren has backed WBO heavyweight mandatory challenger, Zhilei Zhang to defeat current unified heavyweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk, if and when the pair meet in the ring.
Zhang (26-1-1) solidified his mandatory position with a brutal third-round knockout defeat of Joe Joyce, with the pair having previously meeting earlier this year in April. Zhang would ultimately defeat Joyce in the original enociunter courtesy of a sixth ropund stoppage due to damage sustained by Joyce to his right eye.
The Chinease heavyweight would be more clinical in the re-match encounter which took place last weekend at the OVO Arena [formally Wembley Arena] with a punch-perfect performance and destruction of Joyce. A right hook ultimately knocked Joyce to the canvas who despite rising to his feet, failed to make the count of ten with refere Steve Gray waving off the contest once he completed his count.
Zhang now finds himself in a powerful position in regards to his immediate future following his status as mandatory challenger being solidified with multiple options open to him. It was no secret that Zhang is open to a challenge at the WBC world heavyweight title and face Tyson Fury, something which Fury had explored into regarding the possibility of facing Zhang. Ultimately this failed to proceed any further due to Joyce activating a rematch clause following his April defeat to Zhang.
If the Fury option is not available, Zhang will be called to face Usyk once Usyk obliges his mandatory IBF obligations and face Filip Hrgovic.
Warren, who promotes Zhang, was speaking to IFLTV and spoke highly of Zhang’s chances if and when he faces Usyk. Fellow Warren promoted fighter, Daniel Dubois faced Usyk last month in Wroclaw, Poland with the young Briton controversially knocking down Usyk with a bodyshot which was ruled as an illegal blow. Usyk would recover and ultimately score a ninth-round knockout in a dominating performance other than the issues sustained in round-five.
Warren despite Dubois suffering defeat, believes that Dubois exposed Usyk and his weakness of his ability to sustain bodyshots and feels that Usyk will struggle to handle Zhang’s punches if and when the pair meet.
“I fancy him against Usyk,” said the promoter Warren. “I think he’s a big, big man. I fancy him. Look, Usyk is a very, very good fighter. But I fancied Daniel Dubois would give him a tough fight and he exposed him. He showed what we all know in the business because we know something about the business. We’re very good at guiding fighters, and I know that he struggles with shots to the body and that was shown. I’ve seen that in the past.
“He certainly won’t take the punch of this guy.”